About Last Night at the Blue Angel
• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 14, 2015)
Set against the turbulence of 1960s Chicago—a city in transformation—and its legendary jazz scene, Last Night at the Blue Angel is a lush and immensely heartfelt mother-daughter tale about a talented but troubled singer’s relationship with her precocious ten-year-old daughter.
It is the early 1960s, and Chicago is teeming with the tensions of the day—segregation, sexual experimentation, the Cold War and Vietnam—but it is also home to some of the country’s most influential jazz. Naomi Hill, a singer at the Blue Angel club, has been poised on the brink of stardom for nearly ten years. But when her big break, the cover of Look magazine, finally arrives, it carries with it an enormous personal cost. Sensual and magnetic, Naomi is a fiercely ambitious yet self-destructive woman whose charms tend to hurt those around her, and no one knows this better than her daughter, Sophia.
As the only child of a single mother growing up in an adult world, Sophia is wise beyond her years, a casualty of her mother’s desperate struggle for fame and adoration. Unsettled by her home life, she harbors a terrible fear that her world could disappear at any moment, and compulsively maintains a list of everyday objects she might need to reinvent should nuclear catastrophe strike. Her only constant is the colorful and unconventional family that surrounds her and her mother, particularly the photographer, Jim, who is Sophia’s best friend, surrogate father, and protector—but Jim is also deeply in love with Naomi.
Weaving between the perspectives of Sophia and Naomi, Last Night at the Blue Angel is a poignant and unforgettable story about what happens when our passion for the life we want is at sharp odds with the life we have. Part stylish period piece, part heartbreaking family drama, it’s a novel rife with revelations, a vivid and propulsive page-turner—and the major debut of an extraordinary new writer.
Happy hump day everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Last Night at the Blue Angel. I would like to say a BIG thank you to both Rebecca Rotert and TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book!
Last Night at the Blue Angel is a story about love. It takes place largely in Chicago during the 60’s. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Sophia, a ten year old child who is wise beyond her years, and her mother Naomi whom is a struggling singer. Sophia and her mother have an odd sort of mother-daughter relationship. Naomi, not really having ever grown up herself is irresponsible, naive and carefree in her romantic life as well as in her mothering. She basically breaks hearts and takes names, the constants in her life being music and her daughter. Sophia was absolutely my favorite character, I loved her chapters. To me, she often seems younger than ten/eleven but at the same time somehow too experienced for her age (though in a naive sort of way). All she really wants is a normal life and her mother’s attention. Both of their lives take so many twists and turns and they both know some of the very deepest examples of love – mother/daughter, father/daughter, lover/lover and friend/friend. Just so beautiful.
This book was so unexpected for me. I fell head over heels in love with this story. For me, it was very tragic throughout for both Naomi and Sophia. Towards the last few chapters I was in tears. Honestly, I could not put this book down. The storytelling was superb and the writing was just fresh and beautiful. I think both Naomi’s and Sophia’s voices were so distinct throughout the book. My heart was just ripped to pieces by the end of this book for both of them, but especially at the end for Sophia. There are happy moments in this book so please don’t think it’s going to be just a total tearjerker. I just really loved it! This book really affected me and I highly recommend reading it. What an excellent, excellent read that is so worthy of five stars! Do yourself a favor and read this book!
Rebecca Rotert received an M.A. in literature from Hollins College, where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and other publications. She’s also an experienced singer and songwriter, who has performed with several bands, and a teacher with the Nebraska Writers Collective. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. This is her first novel.